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Code of Conduct - Notated Version 13.1

All ISOA member companies subscribe to the ISOA Code of Conduct, which represents a constructive effort towards better regulating private sector operations in conflict and post-conflict environments and disaster relief. It reflects our belief that high standards will both benefit the industry and serve the greater causes of peace, development, and human security. The notes below reflect the changes made during the revision process which led to the ISOA Code of Conduct Version 13.1.


View the Code V.13.1

Code of Conduct Sections

Comments

Preamble: Purpose

This Code of Conduct seeks to establish consistent ethical standards for members of International Stability Operations Association operating in complex environments so that they may contribute their valuable services for the benefit of international peace and human security.

Additionally, Signatories will be guided by all pertinent rules of international humanitarian and human rights laws including as set forth in:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
  • Geneva Conventions (1949)
  • Convention Against Torture (1975)
  • Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions (1977)
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (1977)
  • Chemical Weapons Convention (1993)
  • Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (2000)
  • Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies (2008)
  • International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (2010)
  • UK Bribery Act (2010)
  • Signatories are pledged to the following principles in all their operations:

Change: changed "ensure” to "establish consistent ethical standards for” members

Reason: caretaker of code cannot "ensure” or "guarantee” observance of, or compliance to such standards at any point.

Change: "conflict and post-conflict environment” into complex environments

Reason: for consistency and as a more defined term

Change: addition of ICOC, FCPA and UK Bribery Act

Reason: addition of more comprehensive acts

1. Human Rights

1.1. Signatories shall respect the dignity of all human beings and adhere to all applicable international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Change: took out the word strictly

Reason: -ly word did not add anything new.

1.2. Signatories shall take appropriate measures to minimize loss of life and destruction of property and cultural elements, and harm to the environment.

Change: took out "every practicable” and added "appropriate”

Reason: in order to make the message of obligation and responsibility clear

Change: addition of "cultural elements, and harm to the environment”

Reason: in response to the necessity of protection of antiquities

2. Transparency

2.1. Signatories shall operate with integrity, honesty and fairness.

 

2.2. Signatories shall, to the extent possible and subject to contractual and legal limitations, be open and forthcoming on the nature of their operations and any conflicts of interest that might reasonably be perceived as influencing their current or potential ventures.

Change: "with relevant authorities” was deleted.

Reason: the phrase "be open and forthcoming with relevant authorities” was suggested to encourage the release of information to the public. However, it was argued that proprietary information between companies does not allow for such openness to the public. In the end there was a consensus on keeping "be open and forthcoming” and removing "with relevant authorities” as that would imply that the companies were not necessarily limiting anything, and instead of mitigating the terms it would, in theory, be expanding it.

2.3. Nothing contained in this Code of Conduct shall require Signatories to disclose information in violation of: applicable law; contractually required confidentiality; or any legally recognized privilege.

Change: the sentence "Further, nothing in this Code of Conduct shall require Signatories to violate domestic law” was removed.

Reason: extraneous. It is already implied in the rest of the code. "Applicable law”, in the sentence just before it, covers domestic law.

3. Accountability

3.1. Signatories, understanding the unique nature of the complex environments in which many of their operations take place, fully recognize the importance of clear and operative lines of accountability to ensure effective peace and stability operations and to the long-term viability of the industry.

Change: "conflict and post conflict environment” into "complex environments”

Reason: the term "complex environments” is the standard term in the Code of Conduct for such high risk environments.

3.2. Signatories shall support effective legal accountability to relevant authorities for their actions and the actions of their personnel. Signatories shall proactively address infractions, and to the extent possible and subject to contractual and legal limitations, cooperate with official investigations into allegations of contractual violations and breaches of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Change: took out the word "minor”

Reason: the word minor in the sentence would imply that only such types of infractions would be reported, while major infractions did not have to be reported.

Change: took out the word "fully”

Reason: -ly word does not provide any extra meaning.

3.3. Signatories shall take legally appropriate action if their personnel engage in unlawful activities. For serious infractions signatories should report such offences to the relevant authorities.

Change: took out the word "firm and definitive”

Reason: the word "firm” legally appropriate actions would mean there is a "soft” legally appropriate action as well, which seems nonsensical. Also, the word "definitive” seems extraneous.

Change: addition of phrase "legally appropriate”

Reason: to ensure companies are not taking actions of just any kind, but appropriate actions in accordance with law.

Change: took out clause "such as grave breaches of international humanitarian and human rights laws”

Reason: so as not to limit the types of infraction.

4. Clients

Signatories shall only work for legitimate, recognized governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and lawful private companies.

Change: removed 4.1 (just the number)

Reason: Sub-paragraph is not needed as Clients section will only have a single article.

 

Change: removed the entire 4.2

Reason: idea regarding contracting with the enemy; which is already brought up in 4.

5. Safety

Signatories, recognizing the often high level of risk inherent to operations in complex environments, shall strive to operate in a safe, responsible, conscientious and prudent manner and shall make their best efforts to ensure that their personnel adhere to these principles.

Change: removed 5.1 (just the number)

Reason: sub-paragraph was not needed as Safety section will only have a single article.

Change: "conflict and post conflict environment” into "complex environments”

Reason: the term "complex environments” is the standard term in the Code of Conduct for such high risk environments.

6. Personnel

6.1. Personnel: Rights

6.1.1. Signatories shall act responsibly and ethically toward their personnel and provide instruction on applicable legal framework(s) and guidelines on ethical conduct.

6.1.2. Signatories shall ensure that personnel are fully informed of risk associated with their employment, as well as terms, conditions and significance of their contracts in accordance with clearly defined company standards.

6.1.3.Payment of different wages to various nationalities shall be based on merit and national economic differential, and shall not be based on racial, gender or ethnic grounds.

6.1.4.Signatories shall not retain the personal travel documents of their personnel against their will.

6.1.5.Signatories shall always respect the right of personnel to terminate their employment.

Change: revised

Reason: There was a lot of discussion about this section as there were a lot of similarities between the clauses. While there were a lot of rephrasing and change in the order of points, none of the previous clauses have been removed. Conversely, a lot of new clauses regarding gender violence, subcontracting, and training have been added to make the document more relevant to current times.

The one point that had not been tackled was that of the sub-contractors bringing in people, misleadingly, from Third World countries (TCN) who might not be fully aware of what they are getting involved in. It was important to address this issue.

6.2. Personnel: Resourcing

6.2.1. Signatories shall conduct all reasonable due diligence when vetting personnel to be fit, medically and psychologically, to perform their duties according to the terms of their contract.

6.2.2. Signatories shall, where appropriate, seek personnel that are broadly representative of the local population, while respecting the age-minimum standard of 15 years of age as defined by the International Labor Organization Minimum Age Convention (1973) for hiring. In the hiring of armed security personnel, Signatories shall respect the age-minimum standard of 18 years of age as defined by the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (1989)

Change: revised

Reason: the two clauses could be classified grouped as falling under resourcing of personnel.

6.3 Signatories shall provide their personnel with requisite equipment and materials along with proper supervision and training to compel them to conduct themselves humanely with honesty, integrity, objectivity and diligence and to not violate international humanitarian and human rights laws.

6.4 Signatories shall speedily and professionally comply with lawful requests from the client for cancellation of a contract and for safe extraction of deployed personnel

Change: addition of clause 6.4

Reason: removed from section 8.3 (version 12) and added here, as it talks about the prohibition of abandonment of international employees and possibly local national employees after withdrawal.

 

6.5 Signatories shall not engage or allow their personnel to engage in the act of trafficking in persons, and/or sexual exploitation or abuse.

Change: addition of the new guideline

Reason: in response to the general comments about the response to the current gender-based violence.

7. Insurance

7 Foreign and local personnel shall be provided with health and life insurance policies appropriate to their wage structure and the level of risk of their service as required by law.

Change: removed 7.1 (just the number)

Reason: sub-paragraph was not needed as Insurance section only has a single article.

8. Control

8.1. Signatories shall endorse the use of detailed contracts specifying the mandate, restrictions, goals, benchmarks, criteria for withdrawal and accountability for the operation.

 

8.2. Operations shall be predicated on missions mandated by a legitimate authority in accordance with international law.

Change: removed the "not”, and the words "offensive” and "contracts”

Reason: Makes the statement broader and adds more coverage to it. Also, companies do not engage in "offensive” action, they are just there to provide security functions. Furthermore, the word "mission” includes both offensive and defensive actions.

Change: removed the entire clause 8.3

Reason: removed from here and placed in section 6, as it talks about the prohibition of abandonment of international employees and possibly local national employees after withdrawal.

9. Ethics

Signatories are responsible for establishing a corporate culture that promotes awareness of and adherence by all personnel to the principles of this code.

Change: removed 9.1 (just the number)

Reason: Sub-paragraph was not needed as Ethics section only has a single article.

Change: took out the entire sentence and replaced with the comment from ICOC P.7 paragraph 27, with a slight change in the language of the sentence.

Reason: interpretation of ethical imperative essential for peace and stability operations arises, and the ICOC language seemed more concrete.

10. Support of International Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society

10.1. Signatories recognize that the services relief organizations provide are necessary for ending conflicts and alleviation of associated human suffering.

Change: separation of subsection (support of …..) into a separate section

Reason: the other sections talk about different issues, so are better as a separate section.

10.2. Signatories shall, to the extent possible and subject to contractual and legal limitations, support the efforts of international organizations, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations and other entities working to minimize human suffering and support reconstructive and reconciliatory goals of peace and stability operations.

 

11. Rules for the Use of Force

11.1. Signatories that could potentially become involved in armed hostilities shall have appropriate Rules for the Use of Force established with their clients before deployment, and shall work with their clients to make any necessary modifications should threat levels or the political situation merit change.

Change: separation of subsection (Rules for the…) into a separate section

Reason: the other sections talked about different issue, so were better as a separate section.

11.2. All Rules for the Use of Force shall be in compliance with international humanitarian and human rights laws and emphasize appropriate restraint and caution to minimize casualties and damage, while preserving a person's inherent right of self-defense.

 

12. Weapons Accountability

12.1. Signatories using weapons shall emphasize on accounting for and controlling all weapons and ammunition utilized during an operation and for ensuring their legal and proper accounting and disposal at the end of a contract.

Change: separation of subsection (weapons accountability) into a separate section

Reason: the other sections talk about different issues, so are better as a separate section.

Change: "put the highest emphasis” changed to just "emphasize”

Reason: better wording

Change: Arms control into Weapons Accountability

Reason: more comprehensive

12.2. Signatories shall refuse to utilize illegal weapons, toxic chemicals or weapons that could create long-term health problems or complicate post-conflict cleanup and will limit themselves to appropriate weapons common to military, security or law enforcement operations.

 

12.3. Signatories shall only obtain weapons through legal channels and shall not engage in illicit arms trading, and shall comply with United Nations arms embargos.

 

13. Partner Companies and Subcontractors

Due to the nature of complex environments, Signatories often employ the services of partner companies and subcontractors to fulfill the duties of their contract,therefore:

Change: Removal of 10.1 (12th version, just the number)

Reason: This was more of a statement rather than a guideline.

Change: "conflict and post conflict environment” into "complex environments”

Reason: the term "complex environments” is the standard term for such high risk environments.

13.1 Signatories shall select partner companies and subcontractors with the utmost care and due diligence to ensure that they comply with all appropriate ethical standards, including the ISOA Code of Conduct.

 

13.2 Signatories shall encourage the recognition of and compliance with the standards contained within the ISOA Code of Conduct by partner companies, subcontractors and the industry as a whole.

 

14. Application and Enforcement

14.1. This Code of Conduct is the official code of ISOA. Signatories shall maintain the standards laid down in the ISOA Code of Conduct in addition to the standards and provisions of Signatories’ codes of conduct.

Change: added "in addition to the standards and provisions of Signatories’ codes of conduct.

Reason: ISOA’s Code of Conduct is not a standalone, and individual companies have their own code of conduct. The Codes of Conduct of individual companies are the ones they refer to in order to train personnel.

14.2. The enforcement of the ISOA Code of Conduct is guided by the ISOA Enforcement Mechanism, the complaint system available to the public at-large. Signatories who fail to uphold any provision contained in this Code may be subject to dismissal from ISOA.

 

14.3. Signatories shall endeavor to inform personnel, clients and subcontractors of the ISOA Code of Conduct and ISOA Enforcement Mechanism. Signatories shall endeavor to publicize both to local communities.

 

14.4. Signatories shall have an effective mechanism for personnel to internally report suspected breaches of international humanitarian and human rights laws and violations of other applicable laws or the ISOA Code of Conduct. Signatories shall not retaliate against any person who reports in good faith and on reasonable grounds such suspected violations.

 

 

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